Friday, 20 September 2013

Principality Premiership Weekend Predictions

The second week of the Principality Premiership offers up some intriguing encounters, with arguably the match of the day being defending Champions Pontypridd’s game against Cross Keys at Pandy Park, while Neath host Swansea in front of the S4C cameras on Sunday. For some sides this will be their third match in seven days, and squad rotation will be pivotal.

Bedwas v Cardiff
Both of these teams will be looking to claim their first win of the season. The Gwent side ran Ponty close last weekend but ultimately came up short, while Cardiff fell to Llandovery in dire conditions. This contest is a tough one to call: Bedwas will need to show the same intensity they showed against Ponty last Saturday; Cardiff, meanwhile, will need to step up a notch from their match - although the conditions did not help matters, Cardiff didn't control the match very well, even when they had a man advantage in the closing stages.
Verdict- Bedwas by 5 points
Carmarthen Quins v Aberavon
There is no doubt Quins will be full of confidence following their back to back wins so far this season. In the same fixture last year, these two sides had a humdinger of a match with the hosts just edging it. Quins have some big ball carriers and they have used them in good effect to punch up the middle in their opening two matches, and have the cutting edge behind to hurt any team. The Wizards on the other hand did what was required to dispatch Newport and although they haven’t set the world alight so far, they have won all three competitive matches they have played this season.
Verdict- Carmarthen Quins by 7 points
Cross Keys v Pontypridd.
I really thought Cross Keys were going to put Swansea to the sword last weekend - they had looked impressive in BIC qualifying and Swansea really struggled last term. However, despite all of the Keys' dominance, they failed to make their rivals pay and, once again, discipline or lack thereof nearly cost them the match when Darren Hughes' and Scott Andrews' sin bins left them with 13 men in the closing moments. I truly think the Pandy Park side have the squad to see off anyone on their day and if I was a Keys supporter, I would be more than a little frustrated.
Moving to Ponty, they may be looking for their third win on the bounce but they have used a few ‘Get out of Jail Free’ cards already this season. Undoubtedly, the team they put out mid-week against the Ravens wasn’t the strongest but after such a stellar year last season, there is the worry that maybe they have taken their foot off the gas slightly. Whatever has happened, I’m sure the players will have Dale McIntosh’s voice ringing in their ears should they require another Houdini act tomorrow.
I have no qualms in saying I think this will be a fiery encounter and I honestly think that if Keys keep their discipline, they can win. Having said that, no matter how badly Ponty perform, they seem to keep finding a way to win.
Verdict- Pontypridd by 5 points
Llandovery v Bridgend
Llandovery edged past Cardiff last Sunday and even though Bridgend were the better side mid-week against Ponty, I still think the hosts must start as favourites. However, I think this, too, will be a close but entertaining fixture, though with home advantage Llandovery will come out on top.
Verdict- Llandovery by 6 points
Newport v Llanelli
Newport were pretty poor in their loss at Aberavon, and the Keys did a number on the Black and Ambers in the BIC qualifiers, but the Gwent side will be happy to be back in the familiar surroundings of Rodney Parade. Llanelli haven’t clicked into high gear so far this season - they produced a great second half show to see off Neath last Saturday, while in mid-week, they were squeezed out of it by Carmarthen. Llanelli undoubtedly have a very talented back line with full back Steffan Evans already proving to be a prodigious talent. They will need to start finishing the chances they manufacture, though, if they are to challenge Ponty at the summit this season.
Verdict- Llanelli by 7 points
Sunday 22 September
Neath v Swansea
This match was originally due to be played at St Helens, but the organisers forgot that the Swansea Bay 10K race takes place this Sunday so the venues have been swapped. Both of these teams struggled last season and although Neath made it to the Swalec Cup final, I really feel like the Gnoll outfit were papering over the cracks a bit. Swansea know if they have a repeat performance of the season they had last year they are in very real danger of starting next season in the Championship. Neath really took the game to Llanelli for the opening half last week, while Swansea didn’t exactly roll over to let their bellies be tickled by Keys either. I think this match already takes on huge importance at the foot of the table and I expect Neath to edge this Ospreylian derby... just.

Verdict- Neath by 3 points


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